It’s called the “Elevator Speech” – a pitch you can make in the 30 seconds of an elevator ride. Salespeople hone them to perfection, knowing that they will often have only an elevator ride’s worth of opportunity to gain a hearing.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as selling anything. But in a culture where biblical values are increasingly suspect, it’s well not only to know what you believe and why, but to give some attention to how best to communicate your beliefs.
This came to mind as I saw Chris Broussard, an ESPN analyst, respond to Jason Collins’ announcement that he is gay. Here’s the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCOXBgBjDgY
While most of the talking heads were falling all over themselves to praise Jason’s bravery and to posture themselves as open-minded celebrants of his sexuality, Chris responded with his own views on sin, grace, God’s design for sexuality, and friendships that transcend different beliefs. If he did that off the cuff, he really did well. But with a little preparation, he could certainly improve that elevator speech at several points.
We could hope to do as well off the cuff – and especially on camera! But we can do better if we follow the salespeople’s lead, and hone our elevator speech. Here are some hints:
- First, think through more broadly what you believe about the controversial topic, be it sexual ethics, the nature of marriage, abortion, or the place of Christian values in public conversations. Then from your full rationale form your briefer declaration. You really don’t have to make the whole case. Stating a couple of key points winsomely will invite a more thorough conversation.
- Second, invite your challenger to speak first, and listen for values you can affirm. Real listening is crucial for making sure there is conversation, and not just dueling diatribes.
- Third, make sure that the truth you affirm is preceded and followed by affirmations of grace, and your own need for that grace.
- And fourth, as the salespeople advise, practice. None of us do very well off the cuff on controversial topics. Hone your elevator speech with your small group or your prayer partner. Then if the moment comes, you’ll be ready.
There’s more to say. But I’ve already gone beyond elevator length!